Fran Fraschilla recently ranked the most versatile players in the country (ESPN Insider). The article is behind a pay wall but Fraschilla defines a versatile player as follows:
To me, it’s a player who could help me win if I had to play five of him on the court at one time. Hasheem Thabeet was a dominating presence last season, but I wouldn’t want him bringing the ball up the court or coming off screens to shoot jumpers. On the other hand, Louisville’s Terrence Williams was drafted in large part because he played effectively everywhere for Rick Pitino. In football, I am not sure I could win with 11 Jared Allens on defense, but I’d take my chances with the speed, strength and quickness of eleven Troy Polamalus.
The Big Ten’s very own Evan Turner took down the title as the most versatile player in the country. It’s hard to argue with that, Turner can play anywhere on the wing and will likely run the point guard this year. The other Big Ten player on the list is Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, another pick that I can’t argue with.
The one qualm I have with Fraschilla’s listing is that Manny Harris is nowhere to be found, not even under “just missed the cut”. I know Fraschilla has nothing against Manny, he probably wanted to open the list up to other conferences, however I think Harris deserves some credit for his versatility.
Let’s start with a comparison of Manny Harris and Evan Turner’s numbers from a year ago. Here are some of the vitals:
|3-Pt Shooting||11/25 (44%)||52/159 (32.7%)|
|Off Reb (%)||1.7 (6.5%)||1.8 (6.5%)|
|Def Reb (%)||5.4 (17.1%)||5 (19.1%)|
|Assists (%)||3.97 (25.8%)||4.4 (32.2%)|
These numbers are about as close to a statistical draw as you can get. Turner is slightly more efficient, a better shooter (although the three point shoot is barely a part of arsenal) and manages to get to the line a bit more. However, Harris is a better rebounder (tempo free), dishes out more assists, and turns the ball over fewer times. Turner also has a slight edge in blocks and steals.
I am a big Evan Turner fan, and thought he probably deserved Big Ten Player of the Year last year, but Manny Harris deserves to at least be in this conversation. You would be hard pressed to find any two players who rank near the top of their conference in scoring, rebounding, assists, free throw percentage, and steals the way that Turner and Harris do. If we’re talking about putting out five of the same player on the floor, I’d pay money to see five Mannys battle five Turners.
This year I expect Turner’s scoring and rebounding numbers to see a slight decline from playing the point guard but his assist numbers should make a big jump. For Harris, the key is to improve his shooting percentage, if he can improve his three point shooting percentage another two or three percent his statistical profile begins to look eerily similar to James Harden.